Tentatively planned for the last 2 weeks of May 2015, here is a look at our planned tour schedule:
Day 1: Participants meet up in Bern, Switzerland’s capital city. From there, we will look briefly at the Altstadt, the Bundeshaus (capitol building) the Münster (the Gothic Cathedral) and the old old timber framed houses in the Mattequartier. We’ll also stop by the Neubrügg, a 15th c. wooden bridge on the city’s northern edge. Then We’ll stop in at the village of Münsingen and see the 14th century Wyhus (Gasthof Bären). From there, we will head off to the City of Thun at the base of the Alps.
Day 2: Thun and Spiez. We’ll tour through the old town of Thun, including the old stone and wooden architecture. We’ll stop in to see Schloss Thun, a Burgundian castle first built in 1190 and taking on its current form through a series of renovations ending in 1436. Very impressive wooden framing of the castle roof and 5 floors. In Spiez we will see a number of old structures, but the highlight here will be the Castle and its church. Schloss Spiez was built over a long period of time. The original tower dates to the 10th century, while parts of the palace were built in the 17th century with renovations up until the early 19th century. What is remarkable about this castle is that when additions were built, the old sections were left in their original state and never updated, making this castle a unique window into different periods of history. The Schlosskirche (castle church) was built in the mid 10th century, built on the foundations of an earlier 8th century church. The church today reflects its original 10th century appearance (after a restoration undertaken in 1949). The Church is part of a network of 12 churches in the region built by a Burgundian king in the 10th century.
Day 3: Reichenbach. We will take the train to the Village of Reichenbach, in the Kandertal between Spiez and Frutigen. Here we will walk part of the Reichenbacher Häuserweg, a self-guided tour of historically significant and architecturally impressive structures in the community. Mostly these are Blockbau, or log built, houses though there are some timber frame and hybrid forms as well. We also plan to visit the shop of a log builder on this day.
Day 4: Simmental. We will take the train to Wimmis and set out on the Simmentaler Hausweg, an extensive self-guided tour of structures in the Lower Simme valley. We will also spend time in the village of Erlenbach to observe the village’s church complete with extensive medieval murals and an impressive framed walkway. We also plan to visit the Agensteinhaus, an impressive structure that houses the local museum. Most structures in this region are hybrid structures incorporating log and timber features.
Day 5: Region Thun. A busy day, we will stop in the village of Amsoldingen just to the west of Thun and see a number of old structures including the original style of the region, the Tätschdachhaus, which has mostly disappeared today in favor of northern Bernese style structures. We will also see the 9th century romanesque church, built by the same patron as the Spiez church. From there we will head to the village of Blumenstein and take the Stockentaler Hausweg, a tour of the region’s historic structures. We’ll stop by Wattenwil and look at a few structures in the village, then head to Heiligenschwendi (just northeast of Thun) and take the Spycherweg Heiligenschwendi, a tour of granaries and oven houses. Most of the structures on this tour will be timber frames that exhibit a significant log influence. A style unique to this small region.
Day 6: Ballenberg. We’ll take the train east along the lakes Thun and Brienz, a wonderful trip through the mountains, and go to the Ballenberg Museum. This is an outdoor museum with over 100 historic structures collected from all over Switzerland, set up to demonstrate life as it used to be in different periods and places of the country’s history. This will give us a unique opportunity to study a number of interesting structures in close detail. We won’t be able to cover everything in one day, so we’ll head back to Ballenberg in…
Day 7. We’ll catch what we missed at Ballenberg, then take some time to visit the villages of Hofstetten and Brienz before taking the train to Interlaken. There we’ll see a number of old structures, and head off to a local school for young carpenters.
Day 8: Langnau Im Emmental: We’ll head to the village of Langnau, where we’ll stay for the next few days. Once we’ve settled in, we’ll head out to the nearby village of Eggiwil to take the Eggiwiler Hausweg, another tour of old houses. The architecture here, even though just a few miles away, is far different than the region around Thun. These structures are mostly timber frames with a few log/timber hybrids and a few log structures scattered here and there. When we are done, we’ll head back to Langnau and spend the rest of the day looking at the architecture in that village.
Day 9: Oberemmental. We’ll head out to the village of Schangnau by way of Trubschachen and Escholzmatt (the latter is in the neighboring Canton Luzern) We’ll study a number of interesting structures in the village of Schangnau and head back the way we came, taking some time in Escholzmatt to see a few buildings in the style of Luzern, and in Trubschachen to see some more structures in the style of the Upper Emmental.
Day 10: We’ll head north to Sumiswald. There we will see examples of the style of the Lower Emmental, very large and impressive timber frames. We’ll also stop by the hamlets of Gammental and Trachselwald to see some examples of more rural architecture, as well as take time to visit Trachselwald’s free access castle. From there, we will head back to Bern
Day 11: Bern. We’ll see some more of the city of Bern, although the official tour is over at this point.